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Meena Kumari, an ASHA, lost her 3-day old grandson to infection. She recalls that her grandson was not able to breast feed and had severe chest in-drawings as he breathed.  She was not able to identify his sepsis symptoms and with the knowledge she has that time, she gave the child a good massage with warm mustard oil thinking that it will cure him, instead the symptoms worsened and the child eventually died.

Two years after this incident, Meena now confidently identifies sepsis in young infants and ensures that no child meets a similar fate like that of her grandson. She had attended a refresher Home Based New Born Care (HBNC) training that was conducted under ‘Saving Newborn Lives’ project of Bal Raksha Bharat. This project has given hand-hold training to ASHA’s with a view to fully train them in identifying symptoms of children falling sick during postnatal period. We have also strengthened public health system for effective implementation of existing guidelines for the management of sick young infants with sepsis. The idea is to empower the ASHA workers and help them refer urgent cases to Auxiliary Nurse midwife or Primary Health Centre in a manner that saves lives of new-born.

The refresher training has helped Meena identify the danger signs of sepsis along with updating her on information on birth preparedness, essential newborn care, breast feeding and management of low birth weight babies. The training has also given her greater clarity on her roles and responsibilities.

“I am the first health service provider to see the baby in the village, so I have to be very attentive during Postnatal Care (PNC) visits. I just can’t let another baby die under my watch,” she says.

Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) is a community health workers instituted by the government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as part of the National Rural Health Mission.

Auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) commonly known as ANM, is a village-level female health worker in India who is known as the first contact person between the community and the health

Home Based New Born Care (HBNC) is a new scheme of Ministry of Health Government of India, launched to incentivize ASHA for providing Home Based Newborn Care.

Bal Raksha Bharat’s project Saving Newborn Lives (SNL) Project – This project engaged in strengthening the public health system for effective implementation of existing guidelines for the management of sick young infants with sepsis. The idea was to create capacity and confidence within the public health system with minimal external inputs in order.

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